What a day!
There’s definitely some irony somewhere in the fact that Gus Poyet told the fans to forget about the Quinn and Phillips days, when on Sunday, provided a winning goal that could be straight from the archives of that partnership.
While the atmosphere in the ground was a throwback to the days when the crowd reflected the energetic display on the field.
All the fans want is to see the players put their heart and soul into winning every second ball and every individual battle. That, and to win your “winnable” home games – and make no mistake, this dreadful looking Newcastle side put this game firmly into that category.
I always felt Gus missed the point of what the fans wanted a little with the comments he made, but I’d like to make sure this doesn’t turn into some “The king is dead, long live the king” narrative.
Poyet’s sides controlled the derby games and each and every one of the five successive wins have been essential to Sunderland’s top flight status in recent seasons.
Not one has been meaningless and while we embrace the joy and elation as fans, it’s worth remembering the Uruguayan oversaw three of them.
The most impressive aspect of Dick Advocaat’s early impact is the clear identity he’s created with this side; something previous managers had been desperate to achieve.
High intensity, pressing forward.
No messing about.
The formation is fascinating too. This is a throwback 20th century 4-3-3 – three midfielders and three strikers.
No messing about.
The trio of Cattermole, Larsson and Gomez snapped away all afternoon like little terriers, turning over possession and moving the ball quickly.
The full-backs provided genuine width as they had done earlier in the season when things looked close to being successful for Gus Poyet’s 21st century 4-3-3.
There’s no deep lying role as such here for Catts, instead we have all three players in the engine room providing cover for the opposition’s counter attacks.
And all three can play too. Any side thinking they’re nothing more than spoilers leave themselves open to surprise and punishment.
Connor Wickham has frustrated as a Sunderland player, with his perceived work rate being a big factor in this. But he’s played the last two games with his shackles off and he’s ran himself into the ground.
He’s certainly a little wasteful in possession and can be quite erratic, but we have to allow him to iron out his own mistakes by playing and learning.
We’ve been critical of the signing of Jermain Defoe on the show and questioned how he could fit into the side.
One suggestion floated was the idea to have his movement employed around a central striker, allow someone else to be the number 9.
It was never tried for whatever reason under Gus, but on Sunday, it worked a treat.
In total contrast to his dreadful showing against Villa, the former England striker tracked back, worked hard and proved a threat on the break.
And what a goal. What. A. Goal.
Seeing how Defoe has embraced this fixture has changed the entire complexion of his move to Wearside.
From potential scapegoat to hero in one game. The goal will live long in the memory of every Black Cats fan until the day they die; sitting alongside Super Kev’s strike against Chelsea and Carlos Edwards’ ridiculous effort against Burnley.
It was an Easter Sunday that will never be beaten.
– STEPHEN GOLDSMITH
The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Dick Advocaat. You can be stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.